This easy gluten-free chicken salad recipe is great for picnics, road trips, work lunches, and any other occasion where you want to eat healthy on the go. It can also be made in advance for an express dinner, after a long day away from home.
What makes this recipe even simpler is if you layer on additional ingredient prep techniques. For example, preparing meat is one of the more time-consuming steps in a recipe, so why not take care of that in advance? Check out my Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Breasts recipe to learn how crazy simple it is to prepare chicken for a variety of meals.
What's great about chicken salad recipes is that they can stand on their own as an easy meal, or you can use it as a meal prep ingredient to make other recipes.
For example, you can turn it into a sandwich using your favorite gluten-free bread or a dip with gluten-free crackers. You can also make romaine lettuce wraps and burritos.
What are the Health Benefits?
Chicken salad recipes contain a good mix of protein, herbs, fruit, and vegetables to provide a wide variety of nutrients in one meal. The juicy grapes and crisp celery are also very hydrating, making this recipe perfect for warmer days.
The pine nuts in this recipe are a great addition, due to some impressive health benefits. Here are some highlights:
- Reduces bad cholesterol
- Reduces the risk of getting diabetes
- Maintains healthy body weight
- Boosts your brain health
Gluten-Free Chicken Salad Ingredients
While there are many different ways to make an easy chicken salad recipe with simple ingredients, this one has a great combination of fresh herbs, crunchy veggies, and bright flavors. This recipe makes a big batch so you can use it for multiple meals.
- Cooked chicken breasts - you can poach a couple of chicken breasts on the stovetop or make some chicken in advance to use in this recipe.
- Pine nuts (also known as pignolias) - you can get raw or dry toasted pine nuts from your local grocery store, such as Trader Joe's. Either works for this recipe, but I recommend the toasted version.
- Mayonnaise - avoid store-bought versions containing highly refined oils, such as soy or canola oil. Instead, look for ones with cold-pressed avocado oil or olive oil. Primal Kitchen is a high-integrity brand and they offer a mayonnaise made with avocado oil and organic ingredients.
- Dijon mustard - look for one that does not contain sugar. Primal Kitchen is a good choice here as well.
- Red seedless grapes - grapes are on the Environmental Working Group's "dirty dozen list", so choose organic grapes to avoid pesticides.
- Celery - not only does this add some nice crunch to your chicken salad, but celery is also good for your digestion!
- Green onions - milder in flavor than regular onions, green onions add color and crunch to the salad with a variation in taste when you use the white and green parts.
- Curly leaf parsley - I prefer curly leaf parsley for this recipe as it has a more distinct flavor than flat leaf parsley.
- Rosemary - goes really well with chicken, not to mention the many health benefits of consuming this herb.
- Juiced lemon - this adds a fresh and bright flavor on top of a good dose of vitamin C.
- Salt and black pepper - I recommend regular table salt and fresh cracked black pepper for the best flavor.
Starting with the herbs, remove the leaves from the parsley and the rosemary. Discard the stems.
Mince the herbs and add them to a large mixing bowl.
Cut off the roots from the green onions. Cut each celery rib lengthwise into 2 to 3 strips, depending on how wide they are.
Dice the celery and green onions and add them to the same mixing bowl.
Cut the whole grapes in half, then halve them again so that each grape is cut into four pieces and add them to the bowl.
Juice the lemon.
Add the shredded chicken, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Using a large spatula or spoon, combine well. Garnish with some extra grapes and herbs if desired. Chill the salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Homemade chicken salad is highly customizable, so here are some ideas on how to make it your own:
- For the herbs - feel free to use your favorite herbs, such as cilantro, oregano, dill, basil, or even some mint.
- For the veggies - try red onion instead of green onion.
- For the fruit - try green grapes instead of red grapes. You can also use any other juicy sweet fruit you like, such as apples or even mangos. Or, you can add some unsweetened dried cranberries.
- If you don't like mayonnaise - try full-fat Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Instead of lemon - try lime juice if you just want to switch it up.
- For the chicken - while you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken, it is often coated with industrial seed oils to make the skin crispy. I would recommend removing all of the skin and be sure to get an organic version if possible.
This chicken salad recipe can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Chicken salad is typically dairy-free, but it depends on the recipe. Mayonnaise is made of eggs, which is not a dairy product. If any cheese has been added, then it would not be dairy-free.
Chicken salad is typically gluten-free but be sure to double-check the mayonnaise and mustard for possible additives that contain gluten. Some recipes may call for croutons, which would likely contain gluten.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Gluten-Free Chicken Salad
- 2 tablespoon minced curly leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
- 2 large celery ribs, diced
- 3 green onions, diced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, quartered
- 12 ounces shredded cooked chicken about 3 cups (cubed chicken works too)
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts raw pine nuts also work
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- Mince the parsley and rosemary then add them to a large mixing bowl.
- Cut each celery rib lengthwise into 2 to 3 strips, depending on how wide they are. Dice the celery and green onions and add them to the same mixing bowl.
- Cut the whole grapes into quarters (4-pieces), then add them to the bowl.
- Add the shredded chicken, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Using a large spatula or spoon, combine all of the ingredients well. Garnish with some extra grapes and herbs if desired.
- Chill the salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- If you like your salad fully chilled, put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Food Safety: It's best not to leave chicken salad out at room temperature for more than two hours.
It's best not to leave chicken salad out at room temperature for more than two hours.